Inside Meghan Markles childhood from estranged father to Palace visit as a teen

Meghan Markle is celebrating her 41st birthday today (August 4).

Last year, the Duchess of Sussex marked her milestone 40th birthday in a low-key affair with her husband Prince Harry, and their two children, Archie and Lilibet.

It's likely that Meghan will also be spending this year's birthday with her family at their home in Montecito, California.

Meghan was a famous face long before marrying into the Royal Family, and in her 41 years she's racked up a long list of achievements.

She was a successful actress prior to her marriage, appearing in Suits and CSI: NY.

As well as her acting career, she also started a popular lifestyle blog called The Tig and released two clothing lines.

Throughout her life, Meghan has also been actively involved in charity work, with a particular focus on women's rights.

But what was her life like before the fame? Here's everything you need to know about Meghan Markle's childhood.

Who are Meghan Markle's parents?

Meghan Markle's parents are Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle.

Meghan's mum Doria is a qualified yoga teacher and social worker who lives in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, her father is a former lighting director who lives in Mexico.

Meghan has a close relationship with her mother, and she was even one of the first people to be introduced to Harry when the pair began dating in 2016.

The duchess was also close to her father during her childhood, but the pair now have an estranged relationship.

In the lead up to Meghan and Harry's royal wedding, Meghan's father found himself in the centre of a scandal after staging paparazzi photos.

Following the incident, he dropped out of the wedding and Meghan confirmed the news that he wouldn't be attending in an official statement distributed by Kensington Palace.

Meghan arrived at her wedding with her mother, but broke tradition by walking alone up the stairs and Nave of St. George's Chapel.

Prince Charles walked her down the aisle in the second half of the walk.

What was Meghan Markle's childhood like?

Meghan grew up in Los Angeles, California; her parents divorced when she was just two years old and Meghan spent most of her time living with her mother, but also lived with her father at times, too.

Meghan was introduced to the acting world early on, her dad worked on the set of the TV sitcom Married…with Children and Meghan often visited the set as a child.

On her old blog, The Tig, Meghan wrote about her childhood, saying: "I was born and raised in Los Angeles, a California girl who lives by the ethos that most things can be cured with either yoga, the beach or a few avocados."

The Duchess attended Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse and went on to study at Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girls Catholic school in LA.

She was encouraged to stand up for what is right from a young age and got her first taste at fame at 11 years old when she appeared on Nickelodeon in 1993 after writing to Procter & Gamble to complain about a sexist advert for a dishwasher.

A young Meghan told the children's TV channel: "If you see something that you don't like or offended by on television or any other place, write letters and send them to the right people and you can really make a difference, not just for yourself but for lots of other people."

Meghan's childhood was very different to the life as a royal that she'd go on to have, but she actually first arrived at Buckingham Palace when she was just a teenager.

At the age of 15, Meghan was photographed outside of Buckingham Palace as she visited as a tourist during a summer holiday to Europe.

The young Meghan had no idea at the time that she would be engaged to Prince Harry 21 years later.

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